Monday, July 7, 2014

Where are Carbide Die Companies Located?

Tool and die is the heart of manufacturing, specialized workers make the parts that make the parts. These dies need to be made special, one at a time by skilled die makers. Unfortunately, the number of companies that do this has been contracting since the late 90's. However, current trends show that this may be reversing. Particularly among highly specialized die makers, such as carbide die companies. So where are these companies located?

According to the US bureau of Labor Statistics (2001 to 2010)
Top States in Tool, Die, and Mold Employment  States ranked by 2010 employment.

State                  2001              2010              Percent Change 
Michigan          30,208           18,871                     -27%
Ohio                17,056           11,075                     -28
Illinois              12,822             6,815                     -31
Pennsylvania    11,811             6,476                     -30
Wisconsin          7,309             5,359                     -13
Indiana               8,571            5,228                     -31
California           7,253             4,885                     -23
Missouri             4,371            3,133                     -11
New York          5,171            2,783                    -30
Minnesota           3,933            2,749                    -13

Clearly, tool and die companies are mostly located in the Midwest of the United States. American tool and die companies face there toughest competition from Japan, although the Japanese manufacturers face longer lead times. This extended lead time causes problems due to lean manufacturing principles. Currently the Chinese tool and die industry seems to only be producing lower quality tooling. This is particularly true in the carbide die industry, where the Chinese dies tend to fall apart under the rigors of mass production. This causes damage to other tooling and I have heard more than one person comment that they are "garbage".

Tool and die is a vital resource for any manufacturing economy, and one that America would do well to maintain.

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